LEADER Programmes Funding

Questions (30)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

30. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the drawdown of LEADER funding in County Meath. [50623/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The LEADER programme is administered in County Meath by the Meath Local Action Group (LAG). The total amount of funding allocated to the county for the duration of the 2014-2020 LEADER Programme is in excess of €6.9 million.

To date, 69 projects with a combined grant value of over €3.1 million have been approved by the LAG. A further 3 projects, seeking funding of €506,199, are at earlier stages of the approvals process. 

To date, claims totalling €536,852 have been paid in respect of projects in County Meath. 

My Department has reviewed the delivery of the programme with the Meath LAG and explored implementation issues with all of the delivery partners in Meath. Following on from this review, the LAG has indicated that at least 80% of the project budget available to Meath will be allocated by the end of 2019. This would be consistent with the objectives of the programme nationally and I will continue to monitor the achievement of this target for the reminder of the year.

Project payments will also increase as further works are completed on approved projects and claims for payment are submitted by the project promoters.

LEADER Programmes Administration

Questions (31)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

31. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the process the counties that were allocated additional LEADER funding must now go through when allocating the additional funding to applicants in their counties; if the next highest scoring applicants that missed out on the original LEADER funding should now be first to receive the new funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50430/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

LEADER is a multi-annual programme with a budget of €250 million over the period 2014-2020. 

€220 million of this funding was allocated to the 29 Local Action Groups (LAGs) who deliver the programme in LEADER areas across the country.  The remaining €30 million was allocated for projects which are approved at a national level.

I recently allocated an additional €5 million, originally earmarked for a national scheme, to the top 10 LAGs who were most advanced in their delivery of the LEADER programme. Each of these 10 LAGs was allocated €500,000.

The increased allocations were based on an analysis of the level of funding the LAGs had committed to projects, and the amount drawn down by these projects, as of 20 September, 2019.  The LAGs were advised of the selection criteria in early July, when the proposed reallocation was announced.

The additional funding is to be allocated by the LAGs in the same manner as their existing project budget.  The only condition attached to this extra funding by my Department is that it must be allocated to projects that are approved by the LAG after 1st October 2019.

My Department has no role in the awarding of LEADER funding to any particular project applicants. It is entirely a matter for the relevant LAG to approve a project once it is compatible with the LAG's Local Development Strategy and complies with the EU Regulations and the LEADER 2014-2020 Operating Rules.

Rural Regeneration and Development Fund Administration

Questions (32)

Denis Naughten

Question:

32. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his plans to reopen the rural regeneration fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50496/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund seeks to support ambitious and strategic projects which have the potential to transform rural economies and communities. The Government has committed €1 billion over 10 years to the Fund and €315 million is allocated to the Fund for the period 2019-2022.  

The first call for applications to the Fund closed in September 2018.  There was a large response to the first call, with 280 applications received under Categories 1 and 2.  

Category 1 relates to projects which have all the necessary planning and other consents in place and which are ready to proceed, while Category 2 projects are those which require further project development support to enable them to become ready to apply under Category 1 in future calls. 

On foot of the first call, 38 successful Category 1 projects and 46 Category 2 projects were announced, with funding of €86m provided from the Fund to support projects worth €117m.  

The second call for Category 1 applications for the Fund closed on 6th August 2019.  There was an excellent response from across the country and my Department received 69 applications for funding. I announced the successful projects on the 6th  November 2019.  €62 million in funding was allocated to 26 projects around the country, worth a total value of €95 million.

I expect to announce the second call for Category 2 applications before the end of 2019. A further category 1 call will follow in early 2020.

Rural Regeneration and Development Fund

Questions (33)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

33. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the amount of funding provided to the rural regeneration and development fund for 2019; the amount spent to date out of the fund; the expected out-turn of expenditure by the end of 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50427/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund seeks to support ambitious and strategic projects which have the potential to transform rural economies and communities. The Government has committed €1 billion over 10 years to the Fund and €315 million is allocated to the Fund for the period 2019-2022.  

€52 million was allocated to the Fund for 2019. 

Following the conclusion of the first call under the Fund in February 2019, a total of 84 successful projects had been announced, with funding of €86m provided from the Fund to support projects worth a total of €117m. 

Significant progress is already being made on the implementation of the successful projects.  A number of the projects have already reached their first milestone and had funding released.   To date, a total of €23.1 million has been invoiced for draw down from the Fund by 55 separate projects.  This is made up of €19.3 million for 33 Category 1 projects and €3.8 million for 22 Category 2 projects.  I expect that payments from the Fund will continue to accelerate over the coming weeks and months. 

Notwithstanding this progress, due to the requirement for due diligence and the time it takes for projects of the size supported by the Fund to carry out procurement and get fully up and running, it is clear that savings will materialise in this sub-head this year.  

In that regard, I am pleased that demand under the LEADER programme has ramped up significantly this year and, while I initially allocated €30 million to the LEADER programme, expenditure is over €40 million.  Given this strong performance, I have already allocated an additional €10 million to this programme and will allocate further funding to cater for the increased demand.  In addition, I also intend to allocate additional funding to meet commitments in Local Improvement Schemes and National Rural Development Schemes. This funding will be re-allocated from the savings to be realised under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund sub-head this year. 

My Department is closely monitoring the ongoing drawdowns from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and is working closely with the lead parties for the projects to ensure that funding is released without delay.  In tandem with this process, my Department is also actively managing end-of-year expenditure under its other rural and community capital programmes.  Any savings emerging within our overall budget will be used to benefit other demands, as appropriate.

Finally, it should also be noted that the second call for Category 1 applications for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund closed on 6th August 2019.  There was an excellent response from across the country and my Department received 69 applications for funding. I announced the successful projects from the second call on the 6th  November 2019.  26 projects were approved for funding of €62 million to support projects costing €95 million.

Following the announcement of the successful projects from the second call, my Department is engaging with each lead party to complete due diligence requirements and complete contractual arrangements.

Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme Data

Questions (34)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

34. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of projects and groups receiving funding under the social inclusion and community activation programme in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50422/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) provides funding to tackle poverty and social exclusion at a local level through local engagement and partnerships between disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies.

The current Programme which commenced in 2018 has supported over 43,000 individuals on a one to one basis and over 3,000 Local Community Groups in the period January 2018 to mid 2019.

SICAP is managed locally by 33 Local Community Development Committees with support from Local Authorities. Programme actions are delivered by Programme Implementers (PIs) across 51 Lot areas. SICAP is co-funded from the European Social Fund (ESF) as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.

SICAP provides local organisations with capacity building supports in the main, however grants of up to €1,500 can be allocated to Local Community Groups and up to €2,500 to social enterprises each year. The purpose of the grant must be in line with the objectives of the programme and clearly linked to agreed outcomes.

Please see the table below for the number of beneficiaries that have received SICAP grants.  Please note that data for 2019 is still being recorded.

Beneficiary Type

No. of beneficiaries

2017

No. of beneficiaries 2018

No. of beneficiaries 2019 (Jan-Nov)

Local  Community Groups

n/a

288

178

Social   Enterprises

16

39

19

New   business start-ups (Individuals)

196

195

98

Life Long Learning   course fees (Individuals)

n/a

655

553

Action Plan for Rural Development

Questions (35)

Martin Heydon

Question:

35. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the position regarding progress in developing a new five year rural development policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50648/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Action Plan for Rural Development has been the key vehicle for delivery of the Government’s support for rural development over the last three years.   My Department is currently developing the next phase of rural policy for Ireland, to follow on from the Action Plan which reaches the end of its 3-year lifecycle at the end of 2019.

The new 5-year policy will be forward-looking and will build on the progress achieved through the Action Plan for Rural Development.  It will seek to strengthen and build resilience in our rural economies and communities and will identify policy measures which need to be put in place to achieve those objectives.

The process of developing the new policy has involved a wide range of stakeholder consultation events with rural communities and groups, Government Departments, State agencies, young people, and the wider public. 

An online survey was also conducted, which allowed the public to prioritise what they consider to be the main challenges and opportunities facing rural Ireland over the coming years.  There was a very significant response to the survey, with over 1,700 responses.  The insights and views captured through this extensive consultation process have helped to identify the issues that matter to people living and working in rural Ireland.

The new policy is now being finalized and I anticipated that it will be launched early in the New Year.  As is the case with the current Action Plan, the new policy will reflect a whole-of-Government commitment to rural Ireland.

Departmental Budgets

Questions (36)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

36. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the funding made available in support of community and rural development programmes in the past 12 months; his plans for further investment in the area in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50614/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

Gross expenditure of €291 million has been provided to my Department under the Further Revised Estimates for 2019 and €308 million is budgeted for 2020.

The most recent aggregate expenditure information available relates to payments processed and paid by 27th November. Almost €245 million of my Department's allocation had been spent by that date. I have set out allocations and expenditure across the Department's strategic programmes to that point in the following table, however, it should be noted that significant further payments are approved and are queued for payment across a range of programme areas.

Continued close monitoring of expenditure is a matter of significant priority so as to ensure full use of our allocated resources, and that value for money is delivered in respect of our funding. I intend to ensure that the resources made available to my Department this year are fully utilized.  

The Department  will continue to deliver benefits next year for all communities and for rural Ireland. The overall level of funding for the Department will increase from €291 million this year to €308 million in 2020. This will facilitate the continued delivery of key programmes for rural Ireland and communities across the country; and provide an additional €17 million to support priority areas. Further detail is set out in the table beneath.

The additional funding will be used to support sectors and communities nationwide that will potentially be most impacted by Brexit, and to enhance supports across the community development area – in particular for disadvantaged communities.  In particular the additional funding will:

- increase investment in the LEADER programme, which supports rural economic growth, from €30 million to €40 million;

- provide additional funding for the cross-border PEACE programme, increasing funding from €5 million to €7 million;

- fund a €3 million package of targeted supports for the community and voluntary sector, and organisations and individuals in disadvantaged communities; and

- increase investment in libraries from €6.2 million to €7.2 million.

Department of Rural and Community Development

Spend to 27th November

Allocation - FREV 2019

 Allocation - 2020

Strategic Programme

 €000s

 €000s

 €000s

RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND REGIONAL   AFFAIRS  

 104,029

138,371

149,662 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT   

 137,465

148,225

153,979 

CHARITIES REGULATORY   AUTHORITY   

 3,192

4,606

4,606 

Gross Total :-  

 244,686

291,202

308,247 

Community Development Initiatives

Questions (37)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

37. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if his attention has been drawn to a report (details supplied) distributed by a union; the measures he will introduce to support the community development sector in view of the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50423/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

In August 2019, I launched Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities: A five-year strategy to support the community and voluntary sector in Ireland. The strategy was co-produced by Government and the Community and Voluntary Sector through a Cross Sectoral Group (CSG) established for that purpose. 

The sector participated in comprehensive consultation with my Department to support the strategy development process and many, if not all, of the issues detailed in the report mentioned by the Deputy arose as part of those consultations. The strategy recognises the impact of previous policy and resource decisions on the sector and seeks to address these through its 11 high-level objectives and associated actions. The strategy aims to empower communities, their representative organisations, and the community and voluntary sector, to inform and shape responses to their needs into the future. 

This is an ambitious strategy and will take time to implement. While implementation of all of the actions will begin during the strategy period, there are some that will continue to be progressed and built upon beyond the life of the current strategy, particularly those that address the development of a sustainable funding model. These actions are no less a priority because they will take longer to implement fully. On the contrary, I recognise that these actions are crucial to a sustainable community and voluntary sector and will underpin support for the sector for many years to come. My Department is committed to the full implementation of the Strategy and I look forward to working closely with the sector to support its implementation.

Departmental Budgets

Questions (38)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

38. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the amount of capital provided to his Department in the Estimates for 2019; the amount spent to date by subhead; the proposed reduction in this allocation before the end of 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50426/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Further Revised Estimates for 2019 in respect of the Department of Rural and Community Development provides for gross capital expenditure of €138 million.

The most recent aggregate expenditure information available relates to payments processed and paid by 27th November. Almost €104 million of my Department's capital allocation had been spent by that date. I have set out capital allocations and expenditure to that point in the following table, however, it should be noted that significant further payments are approved and are queued for payment across a range of programme areas.

Continued close monitoring of expenditure is a matter of significant priority so as to ensure full use of our allocated resources, and that value for money is delivered in respect of our funding. I intend to ensure that the resources made available to my Department this year are fully utilised, delivering benefits for all communities and for rural Ireland.

Capital Expenditure to 27th November

 -

  REV 2019

YTD - Actual

V42 – GROSS (€’000s)

138,000

 103,900

 

 

 

A - REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT &   REGIONAL   AFFAIRS

122,882

92,868

A.2 - ADMINISTRATION - NON   PAY

182

 73

A.4 - NATIONAL RURAL   DEVELOPMENT SCHEMES

15,000

 14,456

A.5 - LEADER - RURAL ECONOMY  SUB PROGRAMME  

30,000

 40,028

A.7 - TOWN AND VILLAGE  REGENERATION

15,000

 11,712

A.8 – REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

700

 251

A.9. - LOCAL IMPROVEMENT  SCHEMES

10,000

 8,332

A10 - RURAL REGENERATION & DEVELOPMENT   FUND

52,000

 18,016

B - COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

15,118

 11,033

B.2 - ADMINISTRATION - NON   PAY

151

 52

B.3 –SUPPORTS FOR COMMUNITY & VOLUNTARY SECTOR

1

 -

B.6- SUPPORTS FOR DISADVANTAGED COMMUNITES

1,767

 1,352

B.7- DORMANT ACCOUNT MEASURES

2,500

 702

B.8- PROGRAMME FOR PEACE AND RECONCILIATION

650

 185

B.10 - LIBRARY DEVELOPMENT AND   ARCHIVE   SERVICE

6,049

4,742

B.11 - COMMUNITY ENHANCEMENT PROGRAMME

4,000

 4,000 

Rural Regeneration and Development Fund Data

Questions (39)

Dara Calleary

Question:

39. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number and value of approved projects being funded under the rural regeneration and development fund; the funding allocated for the scheme in 2019; the value of payments made for approved projects to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50618/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund seeks to support ambitious and strategic projects which have the potential to transform rural economies and communities. The Government has committed €1 billion over 10 years to the Fund and €315 million is allocated to the Fund for the period 2019-2022.  €52 million was allocated to the Fund for 2019.

The first call for applications to the Fund closed in September 2018.  There was a large response to the first call, with 280 applications received under Categories 1 and 2.  

Category 1 related to projects with all necessary planning and other consents in place and which were ready to proceed, while Category 2 projects were those which required further development to become ready for Category 1 status. 

On foot of the first call, 38 successful Category 1 projects and 46 Category 2 projects were announced, with funding of €86m provided from the Fund to support projects worth €117m.  

Following the announcement of the successful projects, my Department engaged with each lead party to complete due diligence requirements.  Contractual arrangements were also drawn up with the release of funding based on the achievement of key milestones in the projects. 

In this regard, significant progress is already being made on the implementation of successful projects.  A number of the projects have already reached their first milestone and had funding released.   To date, a total of €23.1 million has been invoiced for draw down from the Fund by 55 separate projects.  This is made up of €19.3 million for 33 Category 1 projects and €3.8 million for 22 Category 2 projects.  I expect that payments from the Fund will continue to accelerate over the coming weeks and months as further milestones are achieved across the other projects.

The second call for Category 1 applications for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund closed on 6th August 2019.  There was an excellent response from across the country and my Department received 69 applications for funding. I announced the successful projects from the second call on the 6th  November 2019.  €62 million in funding was allocated to 26 projects located across the country worth a total of €95 million.

Following the announcement of the successful projects from the second call, my Department is engaging with each lead party to complete due diligence requirements and prepare contractual arrangements.

Interdepartmental Working Groups

Questions (40)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

40. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development when the subgroup between his Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment which is examining the feasibility of using State and publicly owned assets for the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure will issue its report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50636/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

In 2018, a Working Group of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce was established to explore the feasibility of developing a standardised policy for accessing and utilising State assets for the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure. 

The Taskforce noted in its original 2016 Report that the State is the largest owner of land and property assets in the country.  The Taskforce recognised the opportunity to use these assets to house telecommunications infrastructure and improve services. 

The Working Group met on a number of occasions in 2018 and formed the view that a Government Policy Statement on the Strategic Importance of Facilitating Telecommunications Access to State and Publicly Owned Assets would be an important step to underpin the proposal to make better use of State assets for telecoms infrastructure.

Among the factors taken into account by the Working Group during the course of its considerations are developments at EU level to make State and publicly owned assets available for such purposes.

Work is ongoing in relation to development of the draft Policy Statement, which is expected to be formally approved and published over the coming months.

CLÁR Programme

Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 8.

Questions (41)

Robert Troy

Question:

41. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if he will review the conditions being applied to school authorities that avail of CLÁR funding to acknowledge that schools must have primary use and in cases in which outside bodies are using facilities outside of school hours that they must have their own public liability insurance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50480/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

As advised in previous responses to the Deputy, CLÁR funding has been provided for a range of measures to be delivered by schools and communities, including for the enhancement or development of Play Areas and Multi-Use Games Areas (MUGAs). 

The  conditions attached to the CLÁR programme require that such facilities should be available for wider community use.  In the case of schools, I appreciate that the use of play areas and MUGAs by the general community may need to be restricted to times outside of normal school hours.

Many schools in CLÁR areas are willing to make their playground facilities available for community use and have received support under the programme on this basis. The objective was that these facilities would be available to local families and visitors to the area.  I do not believe it would be appropriate or feasible to require individual families that use these facilities outside of school hours to source their own public liability insurance.  

I am not aware of school play areas being used in a way which might give rise to public liability issues by any other outside bodies or groups.

Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 8.